Cochrane ended their first season of summer ball with two medals at the Little League provincials over the weekend in Calgary.
The Cochrane Crush Minor A team won the gold medal while the Major AA team beat all the odds and claimed silver in their division.
It was a close game to the end for the Minor A team against Calgary West. With the score tied 13-13 going into bottom of the 5th, the home team Crush scored four runs to take 17-13 Calgary West scored five in their final bats, giving them an one point lead before the Crush hitters went to work to bring home the championship.
The team was 3-1 coming out of the preliminary rounds and were in a four-way tie with Calgary's Rocky Mountain and Southwest teams and a Lethbridge entry. Calculations were made and the Crush went into the final against the 4-0 Calgary West.
Head coach and Cochrane association president Corey O'How says it was one rollercoaster of a game and he's proud of the team for coming through with the win in the final inning.
He believes the provincial title will draw even more youth to the summer league next year. Cochrane has a well-established spring league but the increased popularity saw two teams enter the District 3 summer league for the first time. Some players are even looking at fall ball and winter training to enhance their skills.
"I think this is huge," says O'How. "Any time you win a couple of championships, people want to play. Look at the Jays. When they're doing good, everybody wants to play baseball, so winning a provincial title in Cochrane, first one that I know of for awhile, it's going to bring out more kids. They're going to want to play and they're going to build our system. It's a lot of fun."
Starting the season with a 1-7 record, the Major AA Crush worked hard to improved and came into the tournament as an underdog. But like the little engine that could, the 11-12 year old players never gave up. They lost the first two games, but bounced back with wins in the quarterfinals and semifinals to face Lethbridge. Some may say they came up short in that game, but given the odds, did they really?
Major 'AA' head coach Brian Alford saluted both his players and an incredible coaching staff for the strides they made over the course of the summer.
"We improved dramatically," says Alford. "We practised three times a week and had four games every weekend. We've been doing that for the past six weeks. Nobody expected us to make the final, that's for sure. We're happy to get there and represented Cochrane pretty well. The efforts was there and the boys played their hearts out."
"I can't wait to do it all again next year."
For baseball mom Wendy Maguire, the provincials saw three of her children playing for two different teams. Both daughter Maeve, 10, and son Nolan, 8, played for the minor team and it was Nolan who crossed the plate with the winning run in Monday's final. Brendan, her older son, played for the major team.
All three played spring ball before joining the summer league.
"It has worked out pretty nicely for us," says Maguire, "considering we have both teams in championship games today."
The success of the teams says a lot about how Cochrane Minor Ball is progressing.
"It shows the whole program in Cochrane is working. Those kids over there (Major AA) played hard, too, and they're doing a great job."